The Hilo Federal Building

The Hilo Federal Building was designed in the Mediterranean Renaissance Revival style by Henry Davis Whitfield and completed in 1917. It was one of the first buildings in Hawai‘i to be constructed of reinforced concrete under its stucco facade. Two wings were added in 1937, and it was listed on the National Register in 1974. Well maintained but suffering from wear and tear and a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 1975, the building was restored by Mason Architects.

  • Once housing the Post Office, Customs House, and Courthouse, the building now provides office space for NOAA, USDA, USGS, and military recruiters, for whom Mason Architects planned flexible and functional work spaces.
  • Mason Architects also restored the third-floor courtroom, removing the added-on false ceiling and floor and refurbishing the original skylight and clerestory windows.
  • The historic courtyard and fountain with their tile mosaics, decorative urns, and wrought-ironwork were restored per original drawings.
  • Though the structure had remained sound, the renovators:
    • Strengthened its seismic resistance with concrete shear walls
    • Designed a new interior staircase
    • Upgraded electrical, plumbing, and telephone systems
    • Removed asbestos; cleaned, repaired, and repainted surfaces
    • Installed central air conditioning and fire protection systems

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AWARDS:

  • Historic Preservation Honor Award from Historic Hawai‘i Foundation, 2012

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    Historic photo: Government Services Administration.

The central building was constructed in 1917; its wings were added in 1937.